Do you suddenly see little bugs crawling on or under the leaves of your houseplant? Chances are you are suffering from aphids. A nasty plague, because they can multiply themselves very quickly into large colonies. They drink the juice of the leaves of your green friend, causing to weaken it. Prevention is better than cure, but how can you prevent this pest or, if it's already too late, control it? Read here what exactly aphids are and how best to combat these critters.
What are aphids?
Aphids are unfortunately a common pest in indoor plants. An aphid is a herbivorous insect belonging to the Aphidoidea family. They are very small, usually no larger than half a centimeter. The aphids have a mango shaped body and can be green, brown or black, but also yellow, pink, white or purple in color. Some aphids have wings. They like to nest on growing points of the plant, such as on the underside of growing leaves, in the leaf axils, on young stems or in the buds. These places provide a lot of food for the aphids. They suck in your plant's nutrients and juices through their "trunk. Every time an aphid puts a bite into the plant they push saliva into the plant's cell. This infects the plant with viruses and will eventually weaken it. In addition, they leave a kind of trail of excretion on the leaves. This excretion is called honeydew. The honeydew lives up to its name. It is a sweet nectar-like substance that is also seen as food by other insects. It is therefore logical that other insects are attracted to it!
In winter aphids will lay eggs, but if temperatures have risen during the growing season from March to October they can also reproduce without an egg stage. Living aphids will then be born right away, looking for a tasty snack. Moreover, no interaction between female and male aphids is necessary for reproduction. Clones are all created that are identical to their mother aphid. A newborn aphid will molt four times until they reach the adult stage. Under the right conditions, this takes about a week. After this, they too will produce young again, soon creating entire colonies. When an aphid notices that the plant is becoming too overcrowded, is losing condition and/or is running out of nutrients they will evolve themselves into aphids with wings. In this way they can fly to another plant to establish a new colony. In addition, they can also move through clothing, pets or just walking!
How do I recognise an aphid?
An aphid can be easily spotted with the eye. They can be recognised by their mango shaped body and their color. Aphids can range from bright green and black to yellow, purple, white and pink. Most aphids are females. They can clone themselves at a furious pace, making a plant completely full of female aphids in no time! Aphids are usually found on the underside of leaves or on young stems. Often a whole colony is established here and you can easily spot them. Some species of aphids can cause a plant to deform, discolor or curl its leaves.
An aphid almost always sits near a vein of the plant in the freshest parts. This is where they can slurp up the tastiest nutrients!
How do aphids damage my plants?
An aphid can reproduce incredibly quickly, so a plant can be completely infested with aphids in no time. Once the plant begins to be full of aphids, some of the aphids will sprout wings. They fly through your house looking for a new plant to clone again here. The flying aphids will specifically look for a plant that they know they can easily drink from. A plant with "hairy" leaves and stems are less popular with the aphid. An aphid lives off the nutrients that flow through your plant's veins. This vein system of a plant is called the phloem. The juices that pass through the veins flow through the phloem with considerable force. An aphid drills a hole, so to speak, with its proboscis, attaches itself to the phloem and is completely stuffed with nutrition without any effort! The plant juices that the aphid likes to drink are high in sugars and low in the essential amino acids that the aphid needs. As a result, the aphid has to drink a huge amount of juice before it gets all the nutrients it needs. Therefore the aphids work together with a bacterium, which converts the sugar from the juice into amino acids. So a technical story...
Despite this cooperation, aphids are often far too greedy! They drink more juice than they need and ingest far too many sugars. The aphid does not need these sugars and excretes them. You may have seen it before: a sticky and glistening layer on the leaf. This is called honeydew. On the honeydew, the fungus sooty mold can grow. In most cases, this fungus is not harmful to your plant, but when too many leaves are covered by the fungus, the stomata of the plant may be closed off. This will prevent them from being able to breathe. The fungal layer will also block the light, reducing photosynthesis in the leaves. Your plant will then stop growing and blooming!
Besides fungus, the louse can also transmit a virus to the plant while sucking. These viruses bring the most damage to your plant. The aphid bites its way to the veins of the plant. This is where most of the nutrients are located. As with a wound, the risk of infection is much greater if the veins are exposed. Fortunately aphids do not cause your green friend to die immediately, but if you do not take action quickly your plant will die from a lack of nutrition. Even if you see that the leaves are turning yellow or falling out, you are not too late! Put your shoulders to the wheel and fight quickly!
How can I prevent aphids?
Prevention is better than cure, but unfortunately you can't prevent aphids 100%. They are carried off by the wind, travel on clothing, pets or the watering can you use in the garden. There is not much you can do about it, but fortunately they are easy to control. You can also take a number of precautions to prevent the risk of aphids. A healthy plant is a strong plant and will be less susceptible to diseases and pests. Of course, there is still a chance that it will suffer from an aphid infestation, but the chances of survival are much higher if the plant is happy and healthy! Another tip is to make sure you always keep new plants separate from other plants for a while.
A well cared for and healthy plant is the best protection against diseases and plagues. Therefore, make sure that your plant is in the right location, receives the right amount of light and water and once in a while give it some extra plant nutrition. If it should happen that an aphid infestation occurs, the plant is strong enough to survive this attack. Cuttings and young plants often do not have enough strength to withstand an attack on their delicate roots. Should you suspect that you have an aphid infestation, keep a super close eye on it and intervene as soon as possible!
How can I control leaf aphids?
The aphid multiplies at lightning speed. If you suspect that your plant suffers from aphids, it is therefore super important to take action immediately! Fortunately, there is no need to panic: Your green friend will not die instantly from aphids, but she will weaken, which increases the risk of other diseases and plagues. With cuttings and young plants things can go wrong quickly: They are not yet as strong as the adult plants. Put your shoulders to the wheel and try to start fighting right away!
Once one of your plants has become a victim of the plague, it is possible that other plants will also be infected. This is because the aphids will fly over to other plants if there are not enough nutrients left or if the plant becomes too full. Therefore, put your infested plant in a separate room and away from your other plants. Fortunately, there are many natural methods for controlling aphids. With the following tips, we hope you get rid of the aphid quickly so your plant can live on long and happily!
Is your plant suffering from aphids? Then the PLNTSdoctor Kit is the perfect remedy! The kit contains, among other things, neem oil. This is a perfect remedy for pests and fungi on your plant. Make a mixture with neem oil, water and detergent and pour it into a plant sprayer. Spray your plant and the potting soil with this. Keep in mind that the aphids are not immediately gone, it may take a few days: so spray regularly!
Fight the aphids with cold water
Aphids are absolutely no fan of cold water, so an easy method is to fill a plant sprayer with cold water and spray the aphid-infested leaves vigorously. This method is really super effective, but beware! Your plant is of course not a fan of ice-cold water, so try to guard against cold damage!
Also something aphids hate are strong scents. Consider lavender, garlic or onion. For example, it helps to place a few cloves of garlic around the plant. Another idea: soak a few sliced onions or garlic in water. Then spray your plant with this water and the aphids will soon disappear!
Combating with natural means
An age-old method that has proven itself is combating with soapy water and methylated spirits. Fill a bucket with about 20 grams of green soap and 30 milliliters of spirit. Keep in mind that the green soap is biodegradable! Then add a liter of lukewarm water to the bucket and stir well. Fill your plant sprayer with the mixture and spray your plants and their leaves well. Repeat this for a few days and the aphids will leave by themselves! Always pay close attention when spraying the leaves with water. In the sun, wet leaves can burn.
Another ecological method is to control your aphids with a nettle decoction. Take a walk through the woods and cut a bunch of nettles. Fill a bucket of water and put the nettles and possibly a clove of garlic in it and let it soak for three days. Then use the decoction to spray the plants. You can repeat this again a few days for best results.
PLNTS hacks against aphids
If you go online to look for the best way to fight aphids you will come across a huge number of options. It is good to know that there is not one specific method that works for everyone. For some plants one way works better than another. It's a matter of trying!
Below you will find a number of alternative hacks that will help you recognize and combat aphids.
Fan of bananas? Then store the peel well if you suffer from aphids. You can put the banana peels in the soil around the affected plant. The sweet smell attracts the aphids and they nestle in the banana peel. Discard the peel after a day and place a new one. In this way you will slowly remove all aphids. If the infestation is too large, this method will be less effective. They reproduce too quickly so this remedy will not be sufficient.
The natural enemy of the aphid
Ladybugs are the natural enemies of aphids and eat them with love. In fact, ladybugs cannot live without aphids! Both larvae and adults ladybugs eat aphids: about 100 a day. By employing these cute little critters, the infestation is solved by itself. This way is super natural, but actually this method is best suited for when your outdoor plants are suffering from aphids. Otherwise you'll end up with hundreds of ladybugs inside, which is pretty cozy, right?